DC: The New Frontier is an Eisner, Harvey, and Shuster Award-winning six-issue comic book limited series written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke and published by DC Comics from 2003 to 2004, collected in two paperback volumes in 2004 and 2005 and an Absolute Edition in 2006. The story has been adapted as an animated movie titled Justice League: The New Frontier, released on February 26, 2008.
The series is reminiscent of works such as Kingdom Come and The Golden Age. Similar to The Golden Age, New Frontier takes place primarily in the 1950s, and depicts the Golden Age superheroes Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman meeting the The Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. The story bridges the gap from the end of the Golden Age to the beginning of the Silver Age of comic books in the DC Universe.
World War II is over. The Cold War has begun. The Age of the Superhero is in decline. But where are the heroes of tomorrow? From the perspective of those brave individuals who made it happen: encounter Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, who survived the anti-hero sentiment of the Cold War, as well as eager newcomers like test pilot Hal Jordan and scientists Barry Allen and Ray Palmer, poised to become the next generation of crime fighters. All leading to the mounting threat of an alien
presence on Earth, where dozens of characters from the '40s, '50s and '60s eras of DC Comics team up to defeat it.
The New Frontier
is set in the mid- to late-1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower
makes an appearance, and references are made to the atomic testing
of that era. The storyline draws inspiration from the comic books and films
of the period, as well as from The Right Stuff
by Tom Wolfe
. The series attempts a dynamic re-imagining of the era that ushered in the presidency of John F. Kennedy
. A major part from one of his speeches is used and the title also invokes John F. Kennedy
's use of the term New Frontier
Contrary to actual events, the story depicts Eisenhower as President in 1952, and Senator Joseph McCarthy as the head of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Eisenhower did not take office until January 20, 1953, and McCarthy never sat on the HUAC as he was elected directly to the Senate in 1948, and never served in the House of Representatives. The actual chairman of HUAC at the time was John Stephens Wood. References are also made to the U.S. Department of Energy, a cabinet-level department which did not exist in the '50s.
Cooke has stated in an interview with Fanboy Radio that "all retcons are irrelevant; the only continuity that matters is the 'prime continuity' established in the first year by the guys who created the strips. I'm following the exact continuity of the original books in the original time they occurred." For example, Martian Manhunter lands on Earth in 1953, the year in which the character Roh'Kar was created, who served as the prototype for Martian Manhunter. Martian Manhunter becomes Detective John Jones in 1955, the year in which the character made his first appearance in Detective Comics
#225 (November 1955). Barry Allen becomes the Flash in 1956, the year of his first appearance, as does Hal Jordan acquires the power ring and becomes Green Lantern in 1959, the year the character appeared in Showcase
#22 (Sept-Oct. 1959). It's in question whether this continues with many others in the series, such as the already-established characters of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman whose origins are not depicted. Cooke did not use the Earth-One
and Earth-Two Multiverse
concepts, and considers the story as pre -Crisis on Infinite Earths
In the current DC multiverse, the world in which the events of DC: The New Frontier take place is designated as Earth-21.
The art style has several influences: Jack Kirby
's, with squared fingers, muscles and jaws; the simple clean lines of Golden Age-era comics; the more modern deco-aesthetics of the Superman animated series produced by Fleischer Studios
, as well as the work of Bruce Timm
on Batman: The Animated Series
, and a number of other shows in the DC animated universe
. Cooke had previously worked as an artist for many of the latter.
In 2005 the series won Eisner Awards for Best Limited Series, Best Coloring, and Best Publication Design.
Harvey Awards: Best Artist, Best Colorist, and Best Continuing or Limited Series.
Shuster: Awards: Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)
In 2007 the series was re-released under the DC Comics Absolute Editions imprint, which garnered an Eisner and Harvey award: Best Graphic Album (Reprint) from Eisner, and Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work from Harvey.
The New Frontier version of the DC Universe has been named Earth-21 in the current multiverse. This version of Wonder Woman appeared in Countdown: Arena.
An adaptation was made as a direct-to-video animated film, written by writer Stan Berkowitz, produced by Bruce Timm, with Darwyn Cooke serving as story and visual consultant. Rated PG-13, it was released in the United States on February 26, 2008 on DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, with pay-per-view available the day of its release.
The series has been collected in two softcover collections and one oversized hardcover edition. The hardcover collection includes 13 pages of new story by Cooke, expanding on the origins of Martian Manhunter and Flash and a six-page segment on the Suicide Squad.
- DC: The New Frontier: Volume One (collecting #1-3; ISBN 1-4012-0350-7)
- DC: The New Frontier: Volume Two (collecting #4-6; ISBN 1-4012-0461-9)
- DC: The New Frontier: Absolute Edition (collecting #1-6; ISBN 1-4012-1080-5)
produced a line of action figures based on the series, released in July 2006.
- Wave 1 - Blackhawk, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
- Wave 2 - Batman, Dr. Fate, Martian Manhunter and The Flash. Released December 12, 2007.
A brief addendum appeared in Solo
#5 (2005), a collection of short stories written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke. One of the stories, featuring King Faraday, is set in pre-revolutionary Cuba
and is titled "Triangulation: A New Frontier Thriller."
Announced in mid December 2007; Cooke and DC Comics released a follow-up special titled Justice League: The New Frontier Special. It ties into the release of the direct-to-video animated movie adapting the story called Justice League: The New Frontier. Cooke was interviewed on Newsarama, where he revealed that the book will include a collection of stories such as the battle between Superman and Batman, a Wonder Woman/Black Canary story where Cooke described it as a "parody along the lines of the old Mad magazines," followed by a Robin/Kid Flash story in which they fight Red saboteurs. The 48 page book was released in March 2008.